After declaring the supposed water wars over between Star Valley and Payson, a civil war of sorts broke out at Tuesday’s Star Valley Council meeting.
Fears of future water disputes with Payson promoted Star Valley to reconsider an earlier decision that hired engineering firm Tetra Tech, which also does work with Payson.
Councilors entered into an hour-long debate on the issue that at times grew tense when members disagreed. Some councilors decried any mention of a lawsuit with Payson while others said Tetra Tech might not fairly represent Star Valley in a court case because of its connection with Payson.
On top of lawsuit worries, the council was concerned it had violated the open meeting law at an earlier council meeting on the same topic.
The hoopla started at a Dec. 15 meeting when the council decided to drop its longtime hydrology firm Levine-Fricke Inc. (LFR) in favor of Tetra Tech, which offered a lower bid for similar data reduction services of wells and rain gauges.
However, the agenized item did not explicitly list Tetra Tech as an option, so because the public was not given proper notice that the switch could happen, the council’s vote violated Arizona’s open meeting law, said Town Attorney and Manager Tim Grier.
When Councilor Gary Coon brought this to Grier’s attention two weeks ago, Grier called the attorney general’s office for advice. Lawyers there suggested the council simply ratify the item.
Grier decided this was the best course of action and listed separate agenda items for LFR and Tetra Tech on this week’s agenda.
“I didn’t agendize it correctly,” Grier said of his mistake to the council. “You are correcting a flawed procedural mistake.”
With that, the council had the option to ratify the previous decision to not contract with LFR. It could then vote to go with Tetra Tech, as it had previously.
Read the rest of the story in Friday's Roundup.